What exactly is the core?

Chances are that you will have heard about ‘the core’ if you do any form of exercise, or if you’ve been recommended to Pilates by your doctor or other health professional. But what is it, and why is it so important?

Your core is not just your stomach muscles. Its major muscle groups include stomach, back, bum, parts of your legs, your diaphragm and your pelvic floor, all working together to provide a stable platform for your torso, arms and legs to work off. Imagine a big crane – the type used to construct skyscrapers. In order for that lifting arm to work it has to have a very strong and balanced system of stability and strength. Without stability it would fall over while trying to lift. Without strength? Well, nothing would happen at all.

Your body should use a similar system of structural strength. In Pilates we work on strengthening the deep stabilisers as well as those closer to the skin. For example, the muscles closer or deeper to the spine, which are made for long haul activities, like holding your body upright instead of slouching. It’s really common for the muscles closer to the skin, like the six-pack muscles which are designed for short-burst intense exercise, to get over-worked, and for there to be very little strength in the very important deep stabilisers, such as the transverse abdominis (TA).